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Nayanars and Alvars in Bhakti Movment

The Nayanars and Alvars were the Tamil poet-saints who played a key role in propagating the Bhakti Movement in Southern India during the 5th-10th Centuries. This was a major Hindu religious revival movement during medieval India that sought to bring reforms to all strata of society by preaching the practice of devotion to achieve salvation. Alvars were a group of 12 saints devoted to “God Vishnu” and his Avatar Krishna with their own composed songs. The Nayanars were a group of 63 saints devoted to Lord Shiva. The Nayanars and Alvars were from various backgrounds, including Brahmins, Harijan, and nobles. Along with the twelve Vaishnava Alvars, they are regarded as the important Hindu saints from South India.

The following people were pioneers of the Bhakti movement in their respective states.

Karnataka - Basavanna, Akkamahadevi, Allama Prabhu

Maharashtra - Jnanadev, Namdev, and Tukaram

Northern India - Ramananda, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Guru Nanak, Kabir Das, Ravi Das, Nanak, Meerabai.

These devotees travelled to various places singing hymns in praise of their Gods. Many temples were built that became sacred places of pilgrimage. Some of the causes of the rise in the Bhakti movement are given below.

-Evil practices in Hinduism

-Fear of spread of Islam

-Caste systems

-Complicated ritualism

-Need for fulfilling method of worship and salvation.


-God is one

-All men are equal

-Give up caste practices

-Devotion is more important than rituals.


-Introduced Social giving like Seva

-Introduced dana (charity)

-Community kitchens with free food.

-Believed in Non-violence (Ahimsa)

-Helping poor farmers and feeding poor people.

-Providing free hostels for poor people

-Promoting folk culture.

Both the Alvars and Nayanars played a a major role in popularizing and influencing the Bhakti movement.

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